Updated: Nov 20, 2014 7:15 pm Eastern Standard Time (GMT -05:00)
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Thursday, Nov 20, 2014

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Free Content

The Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor website reveals that a new free update is now available for the Tolkien-themed action game, offering a new skin and a new game mode. This page has full details on the version 16636.37 update, and here's a summary:

The free Power of Defiance bundle includes the following upgrades:

  • Play as Lithariel, daughter of Lady Marwen, Queen of Nurn
  • Test of Defiance Challenge Mode – Players face the ultimate test to their warrior prowess as they defeat Sauron’s Warchiefs without cheating death or relying on the power of the Wraith.
  • Epic Rune - Defiant to the End: Players gain an additional Last Chance to return to the fray in combat.

Total War: ROME II Free & Paid Black Seas Colony DLCs Released

A Steam Community Announcement has word that the Black Seas Colony DLC is now available for Total War: ROME II, offering the 12th free update for the historical strategy sequel. For those looking for a little more culture, this is accompanied by the paid Black Sea Colonies Culture Pack, and both releases are complemented by a new patch. Here's word:

Marking the 12th piece of additional free content released for Total War™: ROME II since launch, players will find their game updated via Steam today with the new, free playable faction of Massilia. A wealthy trading-state of Greek colonists situated on the north-western coast of the Mediterranean, Massilia has embraced Gallic culture and military techniques to form a unique and fascinating independent faction.

Also available for purchase today, the Black Sea Colonies Culture Pack brings three further hybrid factions to ROME II’s Grand Campaign, custom battles and multiplayer. Cimmeria, Colchis and Pergamom all claim Greek heritage but their settlement away from their homelands has wrought subtle changes to their culture. Each faction enjoys unique traits, strengths and hybrid unit rosters that reflect their culturally diverse civic and military aspects.

Additionally, the latest patch will drop at the same time, consisting of further balancing changes to unit strengths based on community feedback.

Goat Simulator MMO Update Released

Steam News announces the release of the promised free MMO update for Goat Simulator. Here is the totally serious feature list:

Goat Simulator has just been updated with the Goat MMO Simulator free expansion!

  • Five different classes: Warrior, Rouge, Magician, Hunter and Microwave
  • Complete dozens of quests, level up a hundred times and play five different classes that’s a ton of content you do the math, we all went to high-school well I didn’t I was too busy huffing paint behind the cafeteria
  • Level cap is 101, 1 level higher than you-know-what
  • Prolly not tons of content tho, but don’t hate be cool
  • Stay a while and listen to Dumblebore the Grey in Twistram
  • Faction warfare between goats and sheep
  • MMO simulation so good you’ll think it’s real
  • There are even elves and dwarves like in that movie

Steamships Ahoy - Battle Fleet 2

Battle Fleet 2 is now available on Steam for Windows and OS X, with the World War II naval strategy sequel carrying a 15% launch discount to celebrate the release. Word is: "Battle Fleet 2 is a true naval combat sim set in the WW2 era. Players manually control the weapon loadout of their ships, selecting which guns to bring, setting what the angle and power of their shots are, and determining how the ships move and turn. Additionally carriers bring planes, bombing runs, and interception into battles taking place around island chains, which can help provide cover, blocking line of sight, or forcing enemies to run aground. All of this comes together in a fast paced battle in scenarios, campaign mode, or online against other players." The announcement of the game's release includes word that they are working on an Atlantic campaign, which is the subject of a fundraiser on Indiegogo.

Trials Fusion Multiplayer Beta

Ubisoft announces plans to bring multiplayer support to Trials Fusion on all platforms early next year, offering some PC gamers the chance to check this out right now with the launch of the beta, saying those selected to participate will also receive a couple of keys to invite friends along for the ride. Word is they will be giving some keys to applicants who don't already own the game, as well as those who do:

Are you ready to ride?

Good, because the time has come to blow the doors off of the Trials Fusion PC MP Beta. Some lucky players who purchased Trials Fusion on PC will get keys that grant access to the Multiplayer PC Beta. They’ll be taking on strangers, friends, and maybe even their foes (I’m looking at you BlueBadger) as they help us beat the heck out of our servers and work the bugs out.

You don’t like playing with strangers?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Each player who recieves keys won’t just get ONE key; they’ll get enough to bring a couple of friends along for the ride.

Why PC only?

Focusing on the PC platform allows us to react to any issues that arise much quicker. We have an awesome team of developers who have worked insanely hard on this beta, but this IS a beta, so things can go wrong. The team is standing by to start stomping on any bugs that start showing up.

You didn’t buy Trials Fusion, but you want to check out MP before you make up your mind?

That’s a very specific question, but it was the only way I could segue into mentioning that we will also be giving out beta keys on TrialsLive, and through our social channels

Please note: if you have opted out of communications from Ubisoft, we will not go around that to email you a key.

What the heck are you waiting for? Get suited up, punch in your key, and let’s kick the tires and light some fires! The Trials Fusion PC MP Beta is live now.

Chivalry: Medieval Warfare Free Weekend

Steam News announces a free weekend and sale are underway for Chivalry: Medieval Warfare:

Play Chivalry: Medieval Warfare for FREE starting now through Sunday at 1PM Pacific Time. You can also pickup Chivalry: Medieval Warfare at 75% off the regular price!*

If you already have Steam installed, click here to install or play Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. If you don't have Steam, you can download it here.

Besiege castles and raid villages in Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is a first-person slasher with a focus on multi-player. Featuring competitive online combat that seeks to capture the experience of truly being on a medieval battlefield. Inspired from the intensity and epicness of swordfighting movies such as 300, Gladiator and Braveheart, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare aims to bring that experience to the hands of a gamer.

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time

Game of Thrones Trailer; Voice Acting News

Telltale Games now offers this brief trailer to tease their upcoming episodic Game of Thrones adventure game. This is accompanied by word that some of the actors from the HBO series are voicing their characters in the game:

Based on the award-winning HBO television drama series, Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series tells the story of House Forrester. Caught up in the events of The War of the Five Kings, they are placed in a precarious position where members of the household must do everything they can to prevent the house from meeting its doom.

Today we can announce that some cast members of the series will reprise their roles in the game. While players will control five members of House Forrester in their story, the series will have them interacting with fan favorite characters throughout the season, including Tyrion Lannister performed by Peter Dinklage, Cersei Lannister performed by Lena Heady, Margaery Tyrell performed by Natalie Dormer, and Ramsay Snow performed by Iwan Rheon. Additional cast members will appear in later episodes.

The game series is based on the world, characters and events seen in HBO's TV show, which in turn is based on George R. R. Martin's books (A Song of Ice and Fire).The events in the game series begin towards the end of Season Three of the series, and end right before the beginning of Season Five. Players will visit familiar locations such as King's Landing and The Wall, as well as unfamiliar locations such as Ironrath, the home of House Forrester.

Continue here to read the full story.

Fractured Space Early Access

Early access to Fractured Space on Steam is now available, allowing the chance to sample Edge Case's Unreal Engine 4 space game that's due for full release next year. Here's word on the release and the two different levels of participation they are offering:

Edge Case Games, a new British games studio formed from the team behind Strike Suit Zero, has now launched its online space battle game Fractured Space on Steam Early Access. Fractured Space puts players at the helm of gigantic capital ships in epic online, team-based space battles, and promises to be a bold new vision in tactical space combat.

Players can purchase either the Forerunner or Forerunner Fleet packs, priced at $9.99 USD / €9.99 Euro / £6.99 GBP and $19.99 / € 18.99 Euro / £14.99 GBP respectively. The Forerunner Fleet pack provides four game keys so players can share with friends and form their own tactical space combat team. Further Founders Packs, with a range of perks, including exclusive ships, crew, boosters and ranks, will be introduced in the future.

“Our open development journey for Fractured Space started with our first playable build and it’s exciting to welcome new players into the game as we launch on Steam Early Access,” said James Brooksby, CEO of Edge Case Games. “Every player can participate in exciting tactical space battles while also getting a chance to become new contributors to Fractured Space’s ongoing development.”

New Steam Early Access Guidelines

Giant Bomb reports on new Steam Early Access guidelines Valve is presenting developers to help properly align expectations for pre-release games. They say they've confirmed the validity of these with "several developers," and most of these offer ways to accurately describe early access games, while other guidelines look to ensure this is the proper program for them to be using in the first place. Giant Bomb does note, however, that these are guidelines, rather than rules. Here's an interesting warning about not counting on early access to finance project completion:

There is no guarantee that your game will sell as many units as you anticipate. If you are counting on selling a specific number of units to survive and complete your game, then you need to think carefully about what it would mean for you or your team if you don't sell that many units. Are you willing to continue developing the game without any sales? Are you willing to seek other forms of investment?

On Sale

Evening Patches

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Elite: Dangerous Refund Policy

The Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #50 outlines a refund policy for backers of Elite: Dangerous, following firestorm that resulted from the announcement in their previous newsletter that there will be no offline mode in the upcoming space combat game. The newsletter has a Q&A with David Braben about this, as he explains that there will still be a single-player mode, that this doesn't make Elite: Dangerous an MMOG, and that they have regrets over not revealing they were "struggling with this aspect" sooner than they did. Since the community reaction includes demands for refunds, he explains how these are handled:

Will you give people refunds?
We have started responding to requests where there is a clear outcome:

  • Those who have pre-ordered an Elite: Dangerous release version from our online store and have therefore not yet played the game are eligible for a refund.
  • Those who have already been playing the game online in the Alpha and/or Beta phases, regardless of whether they backed the project via Kickstarter or purchased access to Alpha and/or Beta through our online store, are not eligible for a refund.

We want to make sure we treat each person's situation with the thoroughness it deserves, and have contacted each of them to ask that they bear with us over the next few working days if their circumstances do not fit either criteria above as we look into individual requests.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare 2014's "Biggest Entertainment Launch"; Series Tops $10B

Activision boasts that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the biggest "entertainment launch" of 2014, saying the military shooter sequel topped "all movie, music and book launches this year." They do not offer actual sales figures for the new game, instead pointing out that counting this launch, the entire series has topped the $10 billion mark in worldwide sales. "Since Activision created the Call of Duty franchise in 2003, franchise revenues have exceeded $10 billion in sales worldwide, far exceeding box office receipts for such household movie franchises as Hunger Games, Transformers, Iron Man and Avengers, combined," said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. "Advanced Warfare is the biggest entertainment launch of 2014 in terms of revenue, surpassing all movie, music and book launches this year." Though specific numbers are not included, the outline their criteria for this "biggest launch" crown, which someday may be a coveted honor:

Biggest entertainment launch of the year is based on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare retail and digital sell-through, and reported movie, music, and book gross sales, each for the first week following initial launch, according to publicly-available data, retail customer sell-through information, and internal Activision estimates. Sales increase of Advanced Warfare versus last year is based on sell-through in week after initial launch.

Ships Ahoy - Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms

Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms is now available, offering the new action/RPG sequel from developer Games Farm and publisher bitComposer. A retail version is available in some territories, and the digitally distributed version is currently 20% off on Steam. "We are delighted to finally be able to deliver Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms, the official successor to Kult: Heretic Kingdoms," says Peter Nagy, CEO of Games Farm. "It has been a thrilling journey from the Early Access launch to the official release. We've been working closely with the constantly growing community for months. Their feedback was very important to us and ultimately helped us to turn Shadows into a fantastic action role-playing experience." Here's a release trailer, and more on the game:

Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms is the next chapter in the Heretic Kingdoms saga and takes place 20 years after the events of Kult: Heretic Kingdoms. It’s an epic adventure with challenging gameplay, a gripping storyline and enchanting graphics. In this isometric action RPG, the player takes on the role of the Devourer, a demon that swallows the souls of the dead and then brings them back into the mortal realm as his puppets. It's up to him to either thwart a major threat and save the world, or to plunge it into complete disaster…

Continue here to read the full story.

Ships Ahoy - Particulars

The Particulars website offers the release of Particulars, an award-winning (Freeplay’s 2013 Narrative and Audio Awards as well as iFest’s 2013 Sydney Showcase Award) physics-based puzzler for Windows, OS X, and Linux. Here's a launch trailer, and here's more on the game:

Particulars is a physics-based puzzle game that allows the player to explore this unseeable world. They must guide a quark through the hypnotic interplay of particles, utilising the various forces and interactions to achieve specific goals. Each success will unlock more subatomic marvels, and more fragments of Alison’s story.

What is she running from? Who are the relentless figures that pursue her? And what secrets might she uncover in the subatomic realm?

Hearts of Iron IV Trailer

A new video from Hearts of Iron IV puns "tanks for the inspiration" by offering a look at the military technology being simulated in Hearts if Iron IV, the upcoming World War II strategy sequel. This includes equipment both real and virtual, as word is: "The video features a visit to the “Arsenalen” museum of military vehicles in Sweden, where Hearts of Iron IV’s Project Lead, Dan Lind, invites eager commanders to join him on a tour of how different tanks were used to turn the tide of war – and how different nations pursued tactics of quality vs. quantity." Continue here to read the full story.

Centauri Sector Demo

LW Games announces the launch of a Steam Greenlight campaign for Centauri Sector, a top-down space combat game. They celebrate this with the release of an alpha demo. Word on this is: "The current version contains only a solar system from the Centauri Sector, but its enough to play for hours. Upcoming builds will bring new systems, equipment, missions and even ground combat." Here's an alpha 1 trailer along with more details:

Finally! After four months of development, we are getting somewhere. So far, i am pleased with the results and i am eagerly awaiting feedback from players. Upcoming builds will bring more polish to the Tabula Rasa system along with new content additions, like missions, equipment and improved campaign logic plus bug fixing.

Alpha 2 will bring a larger system to the game, where as the player you will be thrown into a big war between factions and the fights will rage for Planets Ownership and supplies. Alpha 2 will feature Ground Battles as well.

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Today is the annual Great American Smokeout, so for all of you smokers out there, here's hoping you take the opportunity to get off your butts. Today is also Thursday, so for participants in our football pool, it's time to get your picks in.

R.I.P.: Mike Nichols, Graduate director, dies at 83

Smokey Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Boom Go the Zombies.
Den of Evil.
Whack Your Computer.
Stories: Marvel considering Alexandra Daddario for Jessica Jones TV show.
Hugh Laurie Is Headed to HBO for His First TV Role Since House.
Media: A burglar escapes from world's most savage guard dog.
Angry Ram destroys a punching bag.
Unimpressed (guy in the middle).

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Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014

WoW Re-Passes 10M Subscribers

World of Warcraft subscribership has once again surpassed the 10 million mark, announces Blizzard, saying the surge comes after the Warlords of Draenor expansion sold more than 3.3 million copies on its first day of availability. The MMORPG most recently reported 7.4 million subscribers after a low point of 6.8 million over the summer. "We’re thrilled that so many players jumped in to play Warlords of Draenor on day one and are having a great time with the new content," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "We poured a lot of hard work and passion into this expansion, and we appreciate all the kind words from players and the overwhelming support they continue to show for World of Warcraft." Here's more on the resurgence:

On November 13, millions of Azeroth’s champions enlisted for the war against the Iron Horde with the launch of World of Warcraft®: Warlords of Draenor™, the fifth expansion to the world’s #1 subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game.* Blizzard Entertainment today announced that as of the first 24 hours of the expansion’s availability, more than 3.3 million copies had sold-through† and the game’s global subscriber base had passed 10 million, with growth across all major regions.

The release last week in North America, Latin America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia brought some technical and demand-related issues that made the first few days especially challenging for many players. To address the issues, Blizzard worked around the clock to roll out a series of updates and increase realm capacity across the board, and performance has remained solid since then. The expansion launched today (November 20 local time) in South Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.


The Steam page for METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES now offers the following system specifications for the upcoming PC edition of the action/adventure game:

Minimum Specifications:

OS: Windows Vista 64-Bit or later
Processor: Core i5 SandyBridge 4Core (4 Thread) 2.7GHz or above
Memory: 4 GB RAM or above
Graphics: GeForce GTX 650 or above
DirectX: Version 11 or above

Recommended Specifications:

OS: Windows Vista 64-Bit or later
Processor: Core i5 SandyBridge 4Core (4 Thread) 2.7GHz or above
Memory: 8 GB RAM or above
Graphics: GeForce GTX 760 or above
DirectX: Version 11 or above

Titanfall Deluxe Edition Released

The Titanfall Deluxe Edition is now available on Origin, offering a new discounted bundle. In addition to the base game, this includes all the DLC from the season pass for the mech shooter. Word is: "Delivering the complete Titanfall experience, the Titanfall Deluxe Edition includes the award-winning game featuring agile pilots and massive titans battling it out in fast-paced future warfare. In addition to the base game, players will also receive all three Titanfall DLC packs including Expedition, Frontier’s Edge and IMC Rising, adding nine maps designed to allow fans to continue the fight on the edge of the frontier."

Steamships Ahoy - Basketball Pro Management 2015

Basketball Pro Management 2015 is now available on Steam, offering a new installment in Cyanide Studios' hoops simulation. There's a launch trailer to show this off, and here's an outline of what to expect:

From Umix Studios and Cyanide Studio, Basketball Pro Management 2015 puts you in control of managing and coaching your own basketball team, including leagues and regulations from around the globe. From recruiting and coaching players, to setting training schedules and budgets, the team's success is all riding on your shoulders.

"This marks the fourth installment of Basketball Pro Management, and we can't wait for players to try out all the new features," said Victor Da Costa of Umix Studios. "Cyanide Studio has been a tremendous partner, using its expertise in sports management games to enhance the series with an all new interface and 3D simulations."

New for this year, 3D visuals bring the game to life while the upgraded AI pushes your tactical abilities like never before. With 43 leagues and a wide range of competitions, real-time coaching, and over 13,000 fully customizable players, Basketball Pro Management 2015 is the premier name in basketball sims.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Assassin's Creed Unity Optimization Plans

An update on the Assassin's Creed Unity Live Updates blog reports the results of an investigation into the "no face" bug some users are reporting in Assassin's Creed Unity, saying this is only occurring for users of a couple of specific video cards, but that this no longer strikes those who have applied the game's day one patch. There is also another update to let us know they are currently testing some optimizations to improve performance, and they claim they are addressing problems in the live game that somehow did not show up during testing:

We can tell you that we have detected a distinct discrepancy between what we observed in the pre-launch versus post-launch environment. In spite of our testing, it looks like the instruction queue is becoming overloaded and impacting performance. We have several fixes we are exploring right now and will continue to update you with our progress of what is working and how quickly we can implement these fixes in the game in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, we are looking at the following revisions that should improve framerate stability for all players:

  • Streamlining some technical aspects of navigation: We’ve fixed a number of edge cases with our detection system to smooth certain behaviors during parkour. We’ve fixed a few objects which were improperly tagged to smooth navigation.
  • Improving task scheduling: We’ve tuned the way the computing tasks are prioritized and parallelized by the processor cores to improve framerate in certain edge cases.
  • Tweaking performance for Reach High Points: We’ve optimized the reach high points, during the camera swooping sequence to improve framerate a little bit.

Though crowd size was something we looked at extensively pre-launch, it is something we continue to keep a close eye on. We have just finished a new round of tests on crowd size but have found it is not linked to this problem and does not improve frame rate, so we will be leaving crowds as they are.

We’re working very hard to see these changes rolled out in Patch 3, but as we’re still testing our fixes we need to be conservative with any estimates as far as ETA is concerned. We hope to have further updates on this topic before the end of the week.

Starpoint Gemini 2 Patch Adds Missions

A Steam Community Announcement has details on a new patch for Starpoint Gemini 2, which adds a couple of freelance missions to the tactical space simulator. Word is this also addresses bugs and improves the game's artificial intelligence: "The highlight, I'd say is definitely the improved NPC AI, specifically aimed at their behavior in combat. We're not done with it yet however and the following updates should bring it all up by a few notches more."

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Our car saga took a turn for the worse yesterday, as all attempts to remove the damaged axle proved futile. This left the possibility that forcing it would damage the transmission (sorry, Cutter, "tranny" has a different meaning in the big city), and replacing that would represent half the beaten up car's remaining value. So we found a gently used replacement, took a beating on our trade-in over the pending repair, and washed our hands of the whole situation. It's a shame, because I had fully planned on driving that car into the ground, and it hadn't quite gotten halfway to the 200K mile mark I hoped to eventually reach. Oh well, maybe I'll get there with this one.

R.I.P.: Ken Takakura Dead- Japanese Actor Was 83.

Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Cemetery Guard.
Banana Bounce.
Van Gaal: The Game.
Stories: Dave Chappelle Is Back (This Time We're 100% Sure It's Maybe Totally for Real). Thanks nin.
The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is… vape. Thanks HARDOCP.
Double Take Reveals New Graphic Fiction Titles Set in the World of the Classic Film “Night of the Living Dead”.
Science: 'Miracle' tech turns water into fuel. Thanks Joshua.
Measles Outbreak In US At 20-Year High. Not Ebola.
Media: An Angry Londoner Loudly Contemplates The Traffic. Thanks nin.

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